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Early Years

Chronology of the History of Videogames

editor: Ted Stahl

Raster vs Vector graphics

History of Video Games

The Early years <- you're here
The Golden Age
The Modern Age
The "Next" generation

History of Computing

pre history
pre-industrial era
Industrial era

History of the Internet



Willy Higinbotham creates a rudimentary form of electronic tennis that utilized an oscilloscope as a display. This device is solely intended for an open house at the U.S. Government's Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he is employed. (Though many refer to this as the original Pong, it is an invention in isolation. Willy never patented this game and no one beyond those who saw the device at the open house ever heard of it. His invention serves as a clever use of technology, but without recognition of its potential, Higinbotham's Oscilloscope Tennis had no direct impact on the evolution of videogames.)



Steve Russell creates Spacewar! on a DEC PDP-1 while working on his graduate degree in engineering at MIT. The game is subsequently modified by a number of other students who add features including a star field, hyperspace capability, and gravity effects. Unlike Higinbotham's contribution to gaming, Spacewar! makes a significant impact and is seen by thousands of students over the next few years. Nolan Bushnell, who was attending the University of Utah, was one of those students.



Ralph Baer begins exploring with ways to use the television as a display device for interactive entertainment. While working at Sanders Associates, he begins development of a prototype of a videogame system.



Ralph Baer files the first videogame patent on January 15th, 1968 for his brown box that later would evolve into the Magnavox Odyssey. Sanders Associates tried to market the device to a number of commercial television manufacturers. Many were interested, but feared that the device would damage the picture tubes of the televisions. RCA seemed willing to invest, but wanted to buy out Sanders Associates and own the patent outright. When Sanders Associates were unwilling to be bought out, RCA lost interest.



Magnavox signs a deal with Ralph Baer to develop the Odyssey.

Nolan Bushnell begins to develop a free-standing version of Spacewar! that people would pay to play.

When his project is completed, Nolan Bushnell sells it to Nutting Associates and they market the game as Computer Space. 1500 units are manufactured and due to the game's complexity, it intimidates people and makes virtually no money. The first arcade videogame is a financial failure.




main page Last Updated on 12 December, 2003 For suggestions please mail the editors